Personally, I came to the event to hear and attempt to understand the BDS movement. Their goals, their aspirations, what would be a success in their eyes. Not to agree, disagree, or debate them. But to understand what they had to say and what they might have to say to their critics (which is what the info sheets had: past criticisms of the movement’s actions and consequences). I came to ask questions and try to understand an opposing viewpoint. There was another student who contacted me who also sat directly in front of me (as can be seen in one of the photos in SJP Brooklyn College’s facebook page album) and he actually needed me to explain to him how we disrupted and why we were kicked out because he didn’t hear any disruption at all.
You’re right, there was a lot of tension in the room, but I fail to see how my behavior, sitting, listening, and taking notes, or even my brother’s whispering to me about an aspect of the info sheet he didn’t understand, can be construed as behavior that would make someone feel “incredibly uncomfortable.”
A CUNY INVESTIGATION INTO THE ALLEGATIONS OF WRONGDOING The Chancellor of City University of New York, Matthew Goldstein, issued a statement on February 11. He wrote that because there were claims that students were wrongfully ejected, at the request of BC president Gould, he asked CUNY’s General Counsel and Vice President for Legal Affairs Frederick P. Schaffer, to investigate the allegations of wrongdoing. Schaffer will be working with an unnamed “independent investigator.”
It is hard to imagine that there would have been any investigation, given official school statement immediately after the students were expelled from the event, had an audiotape of the event had not been made, and then revealed by a protected source.
OPEN ISSUES Obviously the investigation should include interviews with all those officials present at the Feb 7 event, including all the “faculty marshalls” who were present.
In addition, photos from the BDS event show that someone was using a videotape recorder, with a microphone. That recording contains essential evidence. It is likely that other audiotapes, at least, were made at the event as well and they should be examined for evidence of any disruptions.
Goldberg and the other Expelled Four had documentary evidence that they were confirmed registrants for the event. How were their names removed from the lists of those who were to be permitted entry at the event?
Part of the evidence adduced by BDS supporters is that there were Jewish people who were not kicked out of the event, therefore the removal of the Expelled Four was not discriminatory. Several people have said that there were “Orthodox rabbis in the room who asked questions,” as evidence. Were there “Orthodox rabbis” present who were not members of the notoriously anti-Israel Naturei Karta? How did those two members of Naturei Karta obtain admission when they are neither members of the Brooklyn College community nor SJP members? Did someone invite them? If so, who? And why?
One New York Jewish Community Relations Council official who was involved with protests outside the event building and who worked with the Hillel students, Hindy Poupko, said she was aware of only one student who was able to ask a critical question during the event. The response to that student by Judith Butler was, “you obviously didn’t listen to my speech,” and everyone laughed. According to Poupko, “it didn’t seem like a place open to dialogue or dissenting opinions.”
Goldberg was quoted in a Brooklyn College newspaper article as saying prior to the event that she opposed the co-sponsorship by the political science department because, “If I’m in a political science class, I’d feel afraid to open up and that impacts my freedom of speech.” Was that why her name was removed from the list of people who should be admitted to the event?
Goldberg also said she had run-ins with SJP at another event in the fall, at which Guzman told her to “shut up.” She thinks she was blacklisted from the event after a confrontation during the Students for Justice in Palestine’s screening of “The People and the Olive” in November of last year, where Guzman claimed she “tried to disrupt and instigate one of our events last semester.”
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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